The Next Big Thing in Energy: Decentralization
Keep your eyes out for the democratization of power in 2013.
The smart energy analysts over at Pike Research — which puts out weekly reports I’d love to see but can never afford — recently published an interesting brief, and for once it’s free! It’s a high-level overview of “Five Metatrends to Watch in 2013 and Beyond” in the energy sector. Metatrends! (I really wanted to call this post “Metatrends Vs. Crocosaurus.” Here they are:
- Energy is becoming increasingly democratized.
- The role of government innovation funds is changing.
- Technologies are converging.
- The Southern African Power Pool is becoming the new BRIC.
- The role of utilities is changing.
Let’s put aside Nos. 2 and 4, fascinating as they are.
Faithful readers know that I’m obsessed with No. 1, the democratization of energy, which refers to more and more consumers also being producers, more and more municipalities taking charge of their own energy, and thus power over power (as it were) devolving into local hands.
But what strikes me is that 1, 3, and 5 are all aspects of the same trend — a METAmetatrend. (Take that, Pike!)
The metametatrend in energy is, for lack of a better term, decentralization. Systems that were once composed of a few big technologies and a few big companies — along with thousands or millions of passive consumers — are beginning to be replaced by recombinant swarms of small producers and consumers engaging in millions of peer-to-peer transactions with a wild and woolly mix of small-scale technologies.
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